HE came, he saw, he conquered.
Jason Taumalolo, the man at the centre of all the controversy, got the last laugh as Tonga created history with a stunning 28-22 victory over the Kiwis in a pulsating World Cup clash in Hamilton.
Ever since his controversial defection from New Zealand to Tonga, this was the fixture being anticipated, and the 191cm, 113kg wrecking ball loose forward was always going to be the centre of attention.
And he was ever the powerful presence all suspected he would be – leading Tonga’s metres count with 163 from 14 runs, mixed with 21 tackles – as a sellout crowd of 24,041 at FMG Stadium Waikato went crazy for the men in red.
Even if his move was really a good thing for the international game, the circumstances surrounding it – done the day before the naming of the Kiwis’ squad for the tournament, without informing team management of his decision – was the sour taste.
Never really mind that David Fusitu’a, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Manu Ma’u followed suit, it was Taumalolo who kicked it all off; and there was the not so small matter that he’s essentially the best forward, if not best player, in the game.
After a ferocious advance and face-off of the Kiwis’ haka, Tonga then had a new leader for their Sipi Tau – none other than that man Taumalolo.
So, resplendent in red, boots